Amish-made beehives recently arrived at Lehman’s, and how we found them is a unique, not your run-of-the-mill tale, one that involves handwritten letters, friendly honeybees, and of course, Sal.
Sal, a buyer for Lehman’s, began his quest for beekeeping supplies last fall. And through the helpful guidance of Jay Lehman, the founder of Lehman’s, Sal received a lead about where to find handcrafted beehives. This is where his story begins.
Most of our vendors just communicate by email. “This was not like that,” Sal said.
The small business who makes our hives consists of a local Amish family of beekeepers, a husband and wife, who impressively make everything by hand. Like most Amish families, they do not have an email address or a phone in their home. So, Sal decided to use the old-fashioned way of communication – face to face.
Placing the Beehive Order
A few weeks before Christmas, Sal made the hour-long drive out to the heart of rural Amish Country, where he soon discovered he had to navigate his journey solo.
“GPS doesn’t take you to the house,” he said with a smile.
Instead, it brought him to a farm field. He passed many like fields and Amish homes, and even saw a family felling trees with the help of horses – big Clydesdales – pulling them.
He eventually spotted the sign of the small family business and pulled into the driveway. There was a small shop with a house about 50 yards back, but no one was around.
Sal waited, and almost a half hour later, a woman appeared and greeted him. Sal learned her husband, who crafts the beehives, was out in their woods hunting. She told Sal, “If you want to, you can go out there and find him.”
“No, I’ll just wait,” Sal said, remembering it was gun season.
Two hours later, the husband returned from his hunting trip.
“Calm and nonchalant” as Sal described him, the craftsman led Sal into his modestly-sized shop. There was sawdust everywhere, jars with chunks of honeycomb sitting about and honeybees buzzing around. The bees landed on the craftsman as he talked, completely unbothered. While Sal was a bit skeptical, the craftsman assured him that the bees were only looking for honey and that they wouldn’t harm him if he didn’t harm them.
He then lent his expertise to help Sal determine what type of beehives Lehman’s needed. Sal’s goal was to find not only beehives for folks who were just starting out, but for the experienced beekeepers, too.
“He told me what equipment I need to keep bees happy.”
He also shared some beekeeping wisdom with Sal, emphasizing that you don’t want your bees to outgrow your hive. (Make sure you leave room to grow, so your hive doesn’t leave. That’s where the extra super and nuc boxes come in handy.)
Getting the Hives to Lehman’s
Once Sal decided on what hives to order, he realized that getting the hives to Lehman’s was going to be “a challenge.” The craftsman did not drive, so Sal had to arrange pick up. They agreed the craftsman would write a letter and let Sal know a week before he was done with the order.
That letter came in January. The Lehman’s truck and trailer journeyed back out to the farmland, and to Sal’s surprise, it returned completely full of beehives. Every inch was filled.
The massive order took two hours to unload, which Sal helped with. It was a laborious process that involved stacking all the like items together. The next morning, Lehman’s warehouse team came in to see an impressive amount of beehives spread about.
The End of the Beehive Journey
From ordering and arranging pick up to unloading and teaching how to assemble the hives, Sal saw the whole process through. He even was on hand to assist with photography, so our art director knew the correct way to show the hives.
In referring to his selection of beehives, Sal emphasized how he could have gone anywhere to get the hives. But instead he chose to buy local.
“To me, it was a good fit: Amish made, local, handmade . . . I could have got them [somewhere else] but it didn’t feel as good.”
It surely was a buzz-worthy adventure, from start to end.